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Spread of monkey pox can't be ignored

China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-24 07:10
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Head of the Institute of Microbiology of the German Armed Forces Roman Woelfel works in his laboratory in Munich, May 20, 2022, after Germany has detected its first case of monkeypox. [Photo/Agencies]

Monkey pox was seldom reported outside central and western Africa. However, on May 7, the United Kingdom reported the first case in a person who had returned from Nigeria. The number of cases rose to 20 by May 20. By then, confirmed cases had been reported in Europe and the United States.

Despite the name, it is not clear which species the disease comes from, but clues hint at rodents such as squirrels. Infected people report pustules or eruptions on their faces or limbs. Most of them recover but fatality exists; according to a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control report the mortality rate is around 3.6 percent.

The emergence of so many infections in non-pandemic zones should alert everyone. Research shows that those with smallpox vaccination are safe from monkey pox, but since smallpox has been eradicated, most countries, including China, stopped vaccinations for it sometime in the 1980s. That means, those aged under 40 have little protection against it and even those above 40 might see their antibodies diminish with time.

Scientists are studying if the virus has any new infection channels.

Thankfully, the virus is not highly contagious. However, the emergence of so many cases in Europe and the US has prompted scientists to research if the disease has become virulent.

Although no cases have been reported in China yet, we must bear in mind that pandemics know no borders, and the dangers are higher now that human-to-human transmission of the virus has been seen.

Given that China's under-40 population will have little immunity against monkey pox, it is time domestic medical institutions monitored the situation and created public awareness about monkey pox so as not to create panic.

Also, drug research should start early so that China can still control it should it assume pandemic proportions.


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